The Why

What if the classroom experience were as scary for the teacher as it is for the student?

Our education model is broken.  We have a tremendous opportunity to reinvent it. The most effective path is to let the students own the process.  This will work at any stage, but because I work in higher education, I will focus there. Instead of being traditional academics and writing research papers and talking ad nausea about this (with little action), I decided to take action, and to share my successes and failures along the way.

In the spirit of transparency, I will share my real-time experience as I live my Spring 2015 semester. I will focus on one entrepreneurship course I teach at Illinois State University.  I take a very innovative approach to my classroom and every aspect of the educational experience I is tasked with creating.  I ask my students to start a business during the semester.  Instead of talking at them, and in addition to guiding and mentoring them, I will join them in this journey; I too will try to start a business during the semester.  I will learn, succeed, and fail alongside them. I’m scared, no question about it. Scared that it won’t work as a real-time case study for my students. Scared that it won’t work as a learning experience for me.

I want to share this experience to encourage others to try some bits and pieces.  I want educators to innovate.  I want them to feel comfortable trying something new, pushing the boundaries, getting uncomfortable, giving up control.  I want you to learn from my successes and failures.  Most of all, I want you to engage – to ask questions, to share opinions, to offer feedback.  I want you to see what’s possible and to get inspired to act, not just to think or talk.

“People tend to learn most effectively (in ways that make a sustained, substantial, and positive influence on the way they act, think, or feel) when

(1) they are trying to solve problems (intellectual, physical, artistic, practical, or abstract) that they find intriguing, beautiful, or important;

(2) they are able to do so in a challenging yet supportive environment in which they can feel a sense of control over their own education;

(3) they can work collaboratively with other learners to grapple with the problems;

(4) they believe that their work will be considered fairly and honestly; and

(5) they can try, fail, and receive feedback from expert learners in advance of and separate from any judgment of their efforts.”

– Ken Bain, What The Best College Teachers Do